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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
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    The Doctor

    Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 118 mins . M15+ . PAL


    A while back I read a book by renowned doctor and author Oliver Sacks M.D. In this book he documented what happened after a skiing accident in which he lost all feeling in his leg. For a time he had to experience something he was previously unfamiliar with – being the patient. This was a factual account from Dr. Sacks, but I don’t know how much of the book A Taste of My Own Medicine by Ed Rosenbaum M.D. is real or autobiography - but the same deal applies with its telling here in The Doctor.

    Jack McKee is a very gifted surgeon who hasn’t ever thought to attach feelings to the people he treats. This insensitive genius soon finds, after being diagnosed with throat cancer, that he must stoop to the level of the sickies and after some time realises what a jerk he had been previously. However, in paying attention to his own evolving feelings, he neglects his family, who he comes to realise have the disease almost as much as he does.

    While being of an ilk here, the story is no less moving for the fact it is formulaic. Jack’s slow progression through the cause and effect of illness and his discovery of the importance of the people beneath the illness is well told. While it gets a little sentimental at times, there are enough schmaltz-free moments to keep the story moving along alright. William Hurt plays his usual level of detached father figure realising life’s truths, while Elizabeth Perkins plays a fairly good version of a dying cancer patient. Performances aren’t exactly Oscar winning, but all succeed in delivering the message and the heart of this film without overdoing it.


    If one is the worst and 100 the best of DVD transfer qualities, this film resides quite comfortably around the 85 mark. Buena Vista again bring their best to the table and deliver a pretty nice visual package. Reduced from the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 to a cropped 1.78:1, the picture still looks well laid out and nicely framed. Admittedly most of this film is within the confines of hospitals or the McKee’s house, but there are some nice external shots in the desert and some occasional exceptionally well-framed shots in the city.

    There are artefacts appearing fairly regularly throughout, but there isn’t anything really annoying. Picture quality is relatively sharp and the colours are well saturated. These are evident in some mood evincing shots where coloured light is used to indicate subtleties of feeling; cold hospital blues, dangerous reds etc. Blacks look natural and the limited shadow detail is a bit above average, though not perfect.


    The most important thing in this film is the dialogue. Book-ended by throat cancer adds a certain importance to the script and the words used by characters and there are some nicely subtle usages here that work in harmony with the music to hint at a feeling rather than hit us on the head with it. All dialogue sounds great here and the Dolby Digital 5.1 does the trick nicely. What it doesn’t do so well though is overwork. In fact, I only detected surround activity while music was playing. At other times it hummed a bit with backing static that while not loud, probably shouldn’t have been there.

    Michael Convertino’s score to the film is quite nice. In fact, it’s a little too nice. It does the job convincingly, there’s no doubt of that, and at times is beautifully rendered in soft slow pianos, but at others is a little sugary with violins that bleed us of emotion to the point it’s a bit clichéd. However, the music does give the surrounds something to do here, but nothing that couldn’t have been accomplished with a quality stereo production.


    All died on the table unfortunately. An interview with the author might have been nice. Even a trailer. The menus look pretty though and have been themed nicely with stills from the film.


    Whilst not leaching a tear from me, I did have a mild lump in my throat (no pun intended). It’s a nice story, even if a little predictable, but William Hurt does bring the character to life in convincing fashion. He gets some great one-liners that endear us to his character; even though he isn’t always the most pleasant person to begin with. The film is very entertaining and I was genuinely enthralled at times by both the mood created and the authenticity of the performances.

    If films like Patch Adams do it for you, this is another in the same vein (haha) and while a bit too formulaic, is still good watching.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3208
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      And I quote...
    "It’s a little formulaic and predictable, but then so is that damn Medicare form they stick in your face at the doctor’s."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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